Monday 13th June 2011
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Australian coalminer Bathurst Resources has proposed helping restore native wildlife in an area nearly 40 times the size of its proposed 200ha opencast coal mine near Westport.
The company wants to mine 6.1 million tonnes of mainly hard-coking coal from the Denniston Plateau, next to Solid Energy's Stockton opencast mine.
The land is administered by the Department of Conservation (DOC) but is not a national park. DOC neither supports nor opposes the mine but says there are environmental issues that need mitigation.
Bathurst managing directing director Hamish Bohannan told the consent hearing in Westport last week that over its estimated five-year life, the mine would contribute $204 million to the West Coast, including $189 million within Buller. It would employ 185 people, and create a total of 424 jobs.
The mine has attracted criticism from environmentalists and locals, who do not want its coal processing facility next door.
However, Bathurst said it proposed to establish a predator control programme for stoats, rats and possums over 150ha of land around the Whareatea Gorge and 1880ha of the Denniston Plateau and, subject to approval, set up a biodiversity management programme on 5620ha of the Heaphy River catchment area - home to the great spotted kiwi, South Island kaka and powelliphanta land snails.
It would not fully rehabilitate the mine site once it had left, but would leave it in a condition that would allow nature to re-establish itself.
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